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Wednesday, 22 October 1913


The PRESIDENT - I" heard only one " No " ; I put the question, " Is a division demanded?" and there was no response to that request. It is too late now, after a decision has been given, to revive the question.


Senator McCOLL - I ask whether it is the pleasure of the Senate that we should discuss the two measures together?


Senator Needham - On a point of order, sir, might not honorable senators be provided with the Bill which the honorable senator is now proposing to discuss before he proceeds-


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - That is not a point of order.


Senator Needham - It is a very pertinent point anyhow.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - It is a very important thing, I admit.


Senator Needham - If we are not- provided with the Bill, how can we know what the Minister is talking about?


Senator McColl - I find that copies of the Bill are not yet ready for distribution. If it be the desire of the Senate, I will move the second reading now, and then the debate can be postponed till a later stage.


Senator Needham - I object to any further procedure on this Bill until copies of it are before honorable senators.


The PRESIDENT - Tlie honorable senator cannot object at this stage, because the Senate has passed a resolution suspending the Standing. Orders to enable the second reading to be taken. The Bill is now before us, and if Senator McColl is prepared to proceed with the motion for the second reading, that is a matter entirely for himself. It will, however, be for the Senate to determine afterwards whether the debate upon the measure shall' or shall not be "postponed.


Senator McCOLL - Legislation regarding the sugar industry has occupied a great deal of the attention of the Commonwealth Parliament of late years'. From 1901 to 1912, no fewer than thirteen Acts were passed by the Federal Parliament dealing with the question; whilst in the Parliament of Queensland, between 1880-1913, eight Acts were passed. The amount of legislation shows the importance of the question, and also indicates that the changing conditions of the industry necessitated fresh measures from time to time. It is an important industry, and also a peculiar one. In the early stages of its history in Australia, it was contended that sugar could not be grown except under coloured labour conditions. Many persons held that white labour was not competent to conduct the industry on account of the climatic conditions prevailing where sugar-cane is grown. For many years, there had been a strong desire for the. establishment of a White Australia policy. Effect- could not be given to that desire if we were- to continue to allow one of our greatest and most important industries to bo carried on entirely by coloured labour. It has, however, since been proved beyond a doubt that, in the large area where the industry has been conducted, the white man can grow sugarcane in a profitable manner.


Senator Senior - Does the honorable senator say that that has been proved beyond, a doubt?


Senator McCOLL - I think it has been proved satisfactorily; and- I shall be able to adduce the proof later on.


Senator Maughan - That is a welcome admission.


Senator McCOLL - It is a great industry, because it affects the production of an article which is largely used all over the world, and which is an important commodity of commerce. Australia can take credit to itself that, as far as I am aware, this is the first country in the world wherein it has been proved that sugar-cane can be grown by white labour.


Senator McGregor - We took a long time to prove that to you.


Senator McCOLL - Until Federation was accomplished, the sugar industry was entirely under the control of the- States, but with the advent of Federation various important questions arose,- the effect of which was to bring' the industry within Commonwealth control. One of those questions was that of coloured labour, which was being dealt with by the Department of External Affairs. Secondly, there was the Tariff question. These two intimately related questions brought the industry under the- purview of the Commonwealth, which has had to do with it ever since. The industry in Queeusland is carried on in a belt of country ranging from the 16th to the 30th degrees of latitude. Sugar-cane is grown over an area of 1,000 miles in length, and about an average of 80 miles in width, upon the Queensland coast. The sugar area consequently occupies a great portion of the Queensland littoral. Last year the acreage under production in Queensland was 141,652. The quantity of cane crushed was 994,212 tons,, yielding 113,060 tons of sugar. The yield per acre was 1 ton 1 cwt. 3 qrs. :3 lbs. In New South Wales, the area under cane was 14,283 acres. Strangely enough, the yield of sugar per ton of cane was higher than in Queensland. We find that 1-40,114 tons of cane yielded 16,723 tons of sugar. In Victoria, no sugarcane is grown, but a beet sugar industry has been established for some years, and is making a little headway. Last year there were 572 acre's under crop> which yielded 477 tons of sugar - a yield of li ton 1 cwt. 1 qr. 2 lbs. per acre. The consumption of sugar in Australia last year amounted to 226,484 tons - an average of 1-09*. 22 lbs', per head. The quantity grown, in Australia, 130,2'60 tons, left' a -shortage to be obtained elsewhere of 96',224 tons: I am glad to> say that, as Senator' Maughan mentioned a little while ago, the. present year is expected to be a record . one. Last' year the yield was- poor. It- is expected that- the yield Joi- this year will be 220,000- tons, which means that, we shall almost overtake the consumption- of Australia-, and be practically providing ou-r own sugar for ourselves. Of course, it is- recognised by every one that this industry could not exist in" Australia without Protection. It requires Protection, because the sugar lias to be grown in competition with the lowest-paid labour in the world. Consequently a duty of £6 per ton was placed upon sugar coming to Australia from out side. Many may ask- whether the industry is worth the expenditure which has been; incurred upon it. I think it is- for the following reasons : It is- true that- the industry is carried on at a cost- to' the Commonwealth of over £1,000,000, and that- this year the cost will probably be nearer £1,500,000-. But at the same time we have to recognise that by means of our White Australia policy we obtain a higher standard of work and of wages for the industry than would otherwise be- possible, and we must bc prepared to pay for those benefits. It is as well that I should enumerate the advantages that we are getting for this great outlay. First of all, we are- getting an article which is entirely grown and manufactured by our own people: In the next place we bring' about an enormous* amount of land settlement both in the sugar-growing districts and in the. inland districts adjacent to them, that would not be cultivated except for the industry. We are getting better social conditions in Australia, and we are excluding undesirables from this country. We are also affording protection to a part of Australia which is really our danger zone, because it is the pa-rt which is nearer to the great Asiatic countries than any other part of the country It is a portion of Australia that could not be settled by white people except for the sugar indus- try. We are obtaining scope for the employment in the industry of some 26,000 white men. In fact, there are very feW coloured people engaged in it - only some- 5 or 6 per cent, of the employes are coloured people at present - and after this year there will be none at all. By encouraging, the industry we are placing a barrier to the invasion that might possibly take place unless these sugar districts were occupied, and consequently we are in a measure securing our national existence. Great as the amount spent may be, there has never been any indication that the people of Australia as a whole desire the duty on sugar to be repealed. They are prepared to pay it cheerfully, in order that the advantages* which I have enumerated may be secured. The duty, as I have said, is £6 per ton on sugar; raw or refined. In addition to -that there is a bounty of £3 per ton paid by the Commonwealth on the delivery of cane at the mills. We do not wait until the sugar is extracted from the cane, but we pay on it when the cane is delivered. Roughly speaking, the average quantity of sugar produced is 1 ton from 9¼ tons of cane. When the bounty of £3 per ton was given, an Excise of £4 per . ton was imposed. The bounty and the Excise were levied together, in order that the White Australia policy might be inaugurated and in order that every inducement might be afforded for the employment of white labour in the industry. During the year 1912 there was an agitation in Queensland for the abolition of the bounty and the Excise. During the twelve years the amount received by the Commonwealth in import duty was £3,050,609, and the amount received in Excise was £6,191,570. The amount paid in bounty was £3,750,312. Taking these figures, the Commonwealth in those years gained £5,491,867.


Senator Senior - : Out of the industry?


Senator McCOLL - Yes, including the import duty and the Excise. The object of Parliament in imposing the Excise and the bounty was, first, that the industry might be carried on by white labour. That policy has been entirely successful. Last year it, was urged that, our object having been practically accomplished, because only about 5 per cent, of coloured labour is now employed in the industry, the bounty and Excise were no longer required. The cost of administration comes to over £7,000 per year. Moreover, many of the growers considered that the regulations under which the bounty and Excise were imposed were irksome. The bounty, of course, is paid at the mill when the grower brings in his cane, but the Excise is not paid until the sugar goes out of the mill for consumption. According to the Royal Commission which reported on this question, the net amount of duty obtained is not £6, but £5 5s. By doing away with the present system, the Commonwealth will obtain the full £6 per ton. Another result of doing away with the bounty and Excise is that the growers will get 2s. 2d. per ton more for their cane than they previously received. In response to a demand which was general throughout Queensland, the State Government approached the Federal Government last year, and made the offer that they would exclude coloured labour from the industry altogether, and would be prepared to establish a Wages Board, so that the workers might be sure of getting fair payment for the work which they did. No reply was sent by Mr. Fisher, the then

Prime Minister, until the 5th December. The reason for the delay, as far as I can understand, was not any desire on the part of the Government not to proceed with the question, but to wait for the report of the Royal Commission to be sent in, in order that its recommendations might be studied. The report was not presented until the 2nd December. The Commission recommended the abolition of the bounty and Excise. Accordingly, the ' Fisher Government induced Parliament to pass two measures, abolishing both bounty and Excise. Those measures' were assented to on the 24th December, just before last session closed. The session of the Queensland Parliament had ended previous to that, and nothing more could be done until that Parliament passed a Bill.


Senator Senior - Was it not provided that' the Commonwealth Acts should be suspended until a proclamation was issued ?


Senator McCOLL - Yes; the measures were only to be brought into force by proclamation, on the Queensland Government carrying out certain conditions.


Senator de Largie - The honorable senator did not say that at Bunyip.


Senator McCOLL - I protest against that interjection. It is disorderly, and is not relevant to the subject. The reply of the Prime Minister at that time to the Premier of Queensland was -

Referring to subject of vour letter of 5th September, 1912, I have now honour to inform you that the Commonwealth Government will introduce Bills during the current session of Parliament to abolish the Sugar Excise and Bounty Acts, which shall be brought into operation by proclamation upon the States concerned passing an Act to -

(a)   confer upon the Commonwealth Parliament the power to legislate in respect of the employment of coloured labour, and regulation of wages and conditions of labour; or

(b)   abolish coloured labour in the industry, and establish tribunals for the regulation of rates of wages and conditions of labour; such legislation, whether by Commonwealth or State, to adopt the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Sugar Industry as to minimum rates of wages and conditions of labour.

Since December of last year, as honorable senators are aware, there has been a change of Government in the Commonwealth. The new Government took office on the 24th June, and held their first Cabinet meeting on the 26th June. I direct particular attention to those dates, because it will be seen that they lost no time in endeavouring to carry out the promise of the previous Administration, in order to have this question settled. In order to show how anxious the present Government were to meet the desires of the Queensland Government and those interested in the sugar industry, I propose to read the telegrams which passed between the two Governments on the subject. On the 27th June, the day after the first Cabinet meeting of the present Government, the Premier of Queensland sent the following telegram to the Prime Minister -

Sugar Bill introduced last Tuesday. Second reading next Thursday. Do you desire any amendments? Millaquin company sold out three months ago last season's sugar. They are now refining this season's sugars, and will be ready for marketing few days. Strongly urge issue proclamation without delay. Such proclamation to apply to this season's output cane and re- fined sugar. - Denham.

Then there was the following telegram : -

Adverting your letter 25th June, policy was settled last December. Variation in procedure all now sought, as proclamation will nearly precede legislation. Terms and sufficiency of Bill may be determined by your Government. So much hangs upon your Government. I urgently urge immediate proclamation. - DENHAM.

In addition to that, the Queensland Farmers' Parliamentary Union sent this telegram -

Meeting of Queensland Farmers' Parliamentary Union, consisting of twenty-four members, representing farmers' electorates, passed resolution this afternoon urging immediate action abolishing sugar Excise and bounty. First payday new season at hand. If abolition not completed farmers lose heavily. - Swayne, Secretary.

Senatorde Largie. - The honorable senator is trying to put the blunder of the Government on to Mr. Denham now. is he?


Senator McCOLL - I do not know what that has to do with the question..


Senator de Largie - It has everything to do with it. The honorable senator is making an apology for the Government, and is trying to put the blame on the Premier of Queensland. Why do not the Government shoulder their own burdens ?


The PRESIDENT - Order ! Senator McColl has asked that he should be allowed to proceed without interruption.


Senator McCOLL - A reply was sent to the Queensland Farmers' Parliamentary Union to say that the matter was receiving earnest consideration. On the 2nd July, Colonel Rankin sent the following telegram to the Prime Minister -

Sugar-growers anxiously awaiting issue of proclamation abolishing Excise and bounty. Fully expected this would have been first act Liberal Government. Fisher promised immediate relief by equalization, and would have validated his promise by Bill. Present conditions infinitely worse. Millers contemplate shutting down pending definite determination. Situation serious. Reply. - Colin Rankin.

A reply was sent by the Minister of Trade and Customs to say that the matter was being fully considered. On the same date - the 2nd July - -the Premier of Queensland sent this telegram -

Your predecessor only withheld proclamation Excise Bounty Acts until Queensland Parliament passed certain legislation. You have Government's promise to pass Bill embodying that legislation amended in any manner your Government would prescribe. Does this assurance satisfy you, or do you require Bill to be passed before you issue proclamation? Kindly indicate precisely what hinders your action. - Denham.

To that, the Prime Minister replied on the 3rd July-

In view pf circumstances under which the Act was passed, Government suggest legislative provision for continuance of existing conditions of employment or such other conditions of employment as may be agreed on between the parties during the interval between proclamation and determination of industrial boards.

On the 4th July, the Premier of Queensland telegraphed -

Acknowledging with thanks your urgent wire of yesterday, beg to state sugar cultivation and Sugar-growers' Bills passed second reading and committee stages, and will be read third time Tuesday next. A Bill will be introduced without delay to give effect to your suggestion that present conditions of employment continue and prevail during interval between proclamation and determination of industrial boards. Trust proclamation will be issued without further delay. -

Denham.

The Government desired, before issuing the proclamations, which would practically settle the matter, that the conditions of labour and wages laid down by the Royal Commission, and which had been indorsed by Mr. Tudor, the late Minister of Trade' and Customs, should be continued. We did not wish to leave anything to chance, and the Queensland Government were therefore urged to pass legislation fixing the conditions laid down until an agreement had been arrived at by a reference to Wages Boards. In reply to a telegram to that effect by the Prime Minister, the Premier of Queensland sent the following telegram on the 10th July -

Bill, copy of which sent to vou yesterday's post, will be introduced this afternoon. Makes provision respecting wages, rates, and employment - conditions in sugar industry pending awards thereon under Industrial Peace Act. Bill provides for 48 hours' week and £2 8s. without keep, or £1 16s. with keep for adults ; £1 4s. with keep for youths 16 to 18 years and old, infirm, non-able-bodied men and full-bred aborigines, and 16s. with keep for youths under 16; half-caste aborigines, full rates for adult labour. Keep valued at 12s. per week where not included tn remuneration. At the option of employes more than 48 hours per week can be worked at following rates : - Minimum of ablebodied adults, IS. for one hour; youths, 16 to iS years, 8d. ; youths under 16 and full-bred aborigines, 6d. Measure thus incorporates Royal Commission minimum and Tudor's rales for youths. Trust in view of this you will issue necessary proclamation this week.

That was referred to the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs to see whether the conditions required were being complied with, and an answer was received from Mr, Lockyer to say -tha* they were. On the 11th July, the following telegram passed from the . Prime Minister to the Premier of Queensland -

Telegram received ; anxious to assist growers at earliest possible date. The necessary proclamation 'has been prepared, and everything now in readiness on our part. 'On receipt of urgent wire that three Acts assented to proclamation will be issued. Urge you do all that is possible expedite, as very desirable to complete immediately it is possible.

So that it will be seen that no time was lost by the present Government in doing everything possible to expedite the settlement of this question. I may say that the legislation passed by the Queensland Government fully covers what was required. They passed a measure stipulated by "t'he Fisher Government, prohibiting the employment of coloured labour in the industry, and another measure fixing the wages agreed upon until Wages Boards came to a determination on those matters. These measures were first -

An Act to Prohibit the Employment of certain Forms of Labour in the Production of Sugar and for other incidental purposes.

That Act provides that coloured labour in the sugar industry shall be absolutely done away with, and that farmers carrying on the industry with coloured labour at the present time shall be compensated for the loss incurred by doing away with that form of labour. The next measure passed was -

An Act to Insure the Due Administration of " The Sugar-growers Act of 1913," by making Temporary Provision with respect to the Rates of Wages and Condition of Employment in the Sugar Industry until such Matters have been dealt >with by Awards \undei " Industrial Peace Act of 19,12."

And there was a further measure entitled

An Act to provide for the Prompt Payment to Sugar-cane Suppliers of a part of the Valueof the Cane.

By the abolition of bounty and Excise, as- I said before, the growers are to receivean extra amount of 2s. 2d. per ton fortheir cane, and the object of the lastmeasure referred to is to secure to them that extra payment." These measureswere assented to by the Governor of Queensland on the 25th July, and oni the same day we .issued the proclamation: repealing both bounty and Excise. It has been held that the Government werecareless in this matter, and I wish toput the facts plainly before the Senate, in order to show that the Government omitted nothing which could fairly havebeen done. Telegrams were sent to every one in charge of mills, requiring an,' accurate account of stocks in hand at. that date, and the names of the owners of the stocks, so that we might knowexactly what amount of Excise duty had1 to be paid on the stocks in hand, and theparty from whom it would be collected. Everything possible was done to securethe carrying out of the promise of theprevious Government, and we acted inn the best interests of growers, manufacturers, and workers.


Senator Blakey - Was this after Mr. Tudor had called attention to the matter in the House of Representatives?


Senator McCOLL - No; it was before that. I happen to .know personally that these matters were arranged for long before this, because, while the Min:ister of Trade and Customs was in Queensland, I was in charge of his Department,, and the Comptroller-General informed me> that, as soon as Mr. Groom returned, the proclamations would be issued.


Senator de Largie - If the honorablesenator knew so much about it, why were; the proclamations issued?


Senator McCOLL - We had to issue> the proclamations.


Senator de Largie - It was not necessary for the Government to do anything of the kind.


Senator McCOLL - We had to do so, or break faith with the Queensland Government and the growers of cane. I have read telegrams from the Queensland Government and those interested in theindustry, which speak of the urgency of' the matter, and Mr. Fisher's promise was that these proclamations would be issued at once.

Senatorde Largie. - When the Queensland legislation was earned into effect.


Senator McCOLL - The promise was that it would be issued at once, as soon as the Queensland 'Government passed the measures -they had agreed to pass. Nothing was said about holding over the issue of the proclamation.


Senator Rae - Did the honorable senatornot read some telegrams asking that the proclamation should be issued before the legislation agreed upon was passed by the State Parliament?


Senator McCOLL - That is so, and the Government declined . to comply with that request, because , the arrangement was that the proclamations should issue only after the measures passed by the Queensland Parliament had been assented to. As soon as the Queensland Government's part of the bargain had been complied with, the obligation was upon us to fulfil our part of the bargain. If we had issued only the proclamation affecting the bounty, and postponed that affecting the Excise, we should have been guilty of a breach of faith with the Queensland Government and those interested in the sugar industry.


Senator de Largie - The Government made a nice mess of it.


Senator McCOLL - We have not made a mess of it, and such statements are not correct. They are made only for party purposes, and with a view to showing that the Ministry have not done their duty. I say that we have done our duty, and that we also have reserve power to compel this money to be paid.


Senator Rae - Can the Government make sure that it will be paid ?


Senator McCOLL - Yes. But there has been no unwillingness exhibited by those who are chiefly concerned to pay the amounts which they owe.


Senator de Largie - Then why this legislation ?


Senator McCOLL - I ask your protection, sir, from the interjections of Senator de Largie.


The PRESIDENT - On more than one occasion, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has requested that he should be allowed to proceed without interruption. I would remind Senator de Largie that . all interjections are disorderly.


Senator McCOLL - We hav-e been told that we should have withheld the proclamation of the abolition of the Sugar Excise Act, and that we should have proclaimed only the Act which abolished the bounty. That would have involved a breach of faith on our part, with the Queensland Government under an arrangement made with it by the previous Administration. Mr. Fisher himself stated at Brisbane -

He pledged himself in Parliament that the proclamation would be issued when Mr. Denham passed a legal statute according to his promise, and he could not set that aside. The Federal Government had carried out their part of the undertaking, and they were now ready to make their portion of the Act operative so soon as Queensland had completed their part.

If we "had merely proclaimed the abolition of the bounty, we would have had no power to make the owners of sugar in bond -take that sugar out of "bond. They might have left it there as long as they . pleased, and possibly the Excise would then have had to be paid by those who did not hold the stocks. I repeat that an accurate account was taken of the stocks in bond in order that the right people should be called upon to pay the Excise. No other course could have been taken consistent with fair play, and with the promise which had been made by the late Government. The stocks upon which Excise will be charged are those of sugar made from this season's cane, delivered before . the 26th July of the present year. These amount to about 36,000 tons of refined sugar. In addition, there are 3,500- tons of raw sugar, or a total of 39,500 tons. At £4 per ton, the Excise chargeable . upon this quantity amounts to £158,000. But this amount includes about £8,000, which had been paid prior to the 26th July.


Senator Senior - May I ask the honorable gentleman for a little information ?


Senator McCOLL - Certainly.


Senator de Largie - I draw your attention, sir, to the ruling which you have just given.


The PRESIDENT - Order ! There is, no point of order involved.


Senator Senior - I understand that £150,000 worth of sugar was released' from bond by the issue of that proclamation. Does the Vice-President of the Executive Council consider that that was a good business proposition?


Senator McCOLL - It was not released from bond, and the Government were bound by the agreement made by their predecessors. I am not going to say that the Labour Government were to blame. The whole thing was done in a hurry and to meet the necessities of the position. But the parties responsible for this trouble are quite willing to pay the amounts which are due by them. We had to incur whatever risk there might be or to break faith with the Queensland Government, and stop the payment of the additional 2s. 2d. per ton to the growers. But, as a matter of fact, there was no risk in this matter, because if the persons interested proved recalcitrant, this Parliament could enact legislation compelling them to pay it. Moreover, many of these persons, being registered companies, could pay the money only under Statute. However, it is idle to cry over the matter at this stage. When the Sugar Bounty Abolition Bill and the Sugar Excise Repeal Bill were passed by Parliament, the late Government did not consider the matter in all its bearings, otherwise they would have inserted a provision to meet the difficulty. The quantity of sugar in bond, I repeat, at the time the Acts were proclaimed was 39,500 tons in cane, and 6,208 tons of beet. This sugar will yield an Excise of £158,000. The total bounty paid under the repealed Act was £114,000, and the sum required to pay the additional 2s. 2d. per ton under the Bounty Bill will be about £36,000, making a total disbursement of £150,000.


Senator Blakey - Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council tell us how the amount of 2s. 2d. a ton is arrived at'


Senator McCOLL - It represents the difference between the bounty and Excise. The bounty payable was £4 per ton, and the Excise chargeable was £3 per ton. When both were abolished, the mills agreed to pay the difference between those amounts, which represents 2s. 2d. per ton to the growers. The Queensland Parliament passed the necessary legislation, which was assented to on the 24th July last. The Sugar Growers' Employes Act provides that persons engaged in the industry shall receive a minimum wage of 8s. per day of eight hours, and the Sugar Growers Act directs payment to the growers by the mill-owners of the additional remuneration equivalent to the amount of the Excise, namely: - In No. 1 district, 9s. 8d. per ton of cane; in No. 2 district, 9s. 2d. per ton of cane; in No. 3 district, 8s. 8d. per ton of cane; and in No. 4 district, 8s. 2d. per ton of cane. It was morally obligatory on the part of this Government to carry out the promise which had been made by their predecessors. Otherwise, we should have been charged with a breach of faith. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company and some of the mill-owners in the Mackay and Bundaberg districts had promised that, if the Excise and bounty were abolished, they would give the growers the full advantage therefor, namely an additional 2s. 2d. per ton. This necessitated an adjustment being made, and, accordingly, the payment of the bounty vas temporarily suspended. On the 2nd August the Collectors of Customs in Queensland and New South Wales were instructed to communicate with each millowner, and ascertain the method proposed to be adopted in recouping the growers the amount of Excise on sugar the produce of cane delivered prior to the abolition of the Excise and bounty. Owing to the diversity of opinions among the millowners, it was then decided ' by the Government to take action to collect the revenue, and to make the necessary adjustment as between the mill-owners and growers. On the 13th August verbal instructions were given for the drafting of the present Bills, and written instructions were given on 16th August. The remarks which were made in another place were not made till some little time later. It is necessary to bring the Bill into force on a date to be proclaimed, instead of immediately, so that meanwhile the Department may be in full possession of information as to the exact quantity of excisable sugar. Clause 2 seeks to reimpose a duty of 4s. per cwt. upon sugar, and paragraph a covers all sugar made from cane delivered this season up to and including 25th July last. On this cane, except a very small proportion, namely, about 4.6 per cent, grown by black labour, the bounty at the old rate has been paid. The Excise on sugar is - except as to a negligible quantity - paid by the refining companies, and it is the intention of the Government to collect the Excise under this Bill in such a manner that no hardship will be inflicted. By arrangement with the refining companies, each will pay a proportion of the Excise due, with the result that the Excise will be paid by those who would have paid ib had it been continued in operation. The provision in paragraph b is intended to cover sugar in bond on 25th July last, which was made from the previous year's cane, about 3,000 tons. It also includes 450 tons of beet sugar, which were in the Maffra factory on that date. It is but equitable to charge this Excise, since the cane and beet from which the sugar was produced received the bounty under the former Act. Clause 3 is merely a formal one. In regard to clause 4, I wish to say that extreme care is necessary in determining the exactquantity of sugar which shall be charged Excise under this Bill. Reports have been obtained from all the State Collectors of Customs as to the quantities in their respective States. These show that they total about 39,500 tons. The figures are now being verified, and when such verification is complete, which should be within a few weeks, the quantity will be gazetted - the Act, of course, having by then been proclaimed. The course outlined in this provision is considered to be preferable to the mention in it of the quantities on which Excise is due. In regard to clause 5, it will be realized that the sugar which is actually excisable Under clause 2 cannot now be identified. Doubtless the greater portion of it will have passed into consumption. It will, therefore, be necessary to charge the Excise on the first sugar which is cleared after the proclamation of this Bill. As already explained, arrangements have been made whereby each of the parties responsible for the Excise will pay his proper share. Clause 6 provides that when Excise has been paid to the extent required under clause 12, the Excise duty shall cease to operate. This provision will obviate the necessity of passing another Act to repeal this one. The object of clause 7 is to impose upon sugar manufacturers the obligation of passing entries and paying duty - in short, to make it clear that the machinery clauses of the Excise Act 1901 are operative for the purposes of this measure.

The Sugar Bounty Bill provides for the payment to the growers of the amount by which the average rate of Excise per ton of cane or beet exceeds the average rate of bounty per ton of cane or beet for the cane or beet delivered this season prior to the repeal of the Excise and bounty, so as to give the growers the full benefit of the abolition of the Excise and bounty as from the beginning of the season. Clause 2 provides for the payment of a bounty to every grower of whitegrown sugar on all cane delivered for manufacture between 1st May and 26th July, and on all beet delivered for manufacture between 1st January and 26th July. Under clause 3 the bounty is not payable to a grower in cases where the Minister is of the opinion that bounty would not have been payable under the Sugar Bounty Act 1905-12 if that Act had not been repealed. The rates of bounty are - For cane, 2s. 2d. per ton; for beet, 2s. per ton.

That is a brief explanation of the provisions of the Bills, and in Committee it can be elaborated, if necessary. I think I have shown that the Government did all that was necessary, and acted fairly in the matter. The statements that we ran the risk' of losing the money have no foundation. Even supposing that those who have to pay the money were unwilling, and tried to get out of that obligation, there was always the reserve power of legislating to make them pay. I move the second reading of the Bill relating to the Excise duty.

Debate (on motion by Senator McGregor) adjourned.







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